Steve Rogers looks constituents in the eye with a focus that borders on intimate. His handshake is like a vice, covered in velvet. He kisses babies so sweetly it becomes most infants' first memory.
And he's still going to lose this election.
At least that's what the email he received from Tony Stark said. Sifting through correspondence on donor meetings and National Committee obligations, Steve nearly deleted it before realizing the head of Stark Industries had somehow sent him a personal email.
He scrolled through the graphs and pie charts Stark had emailed him. Stopped fiddling with his half undone tie knot and neglected his nightly beer as he tried to make sense of the numbers. He was up in all the public polls. Where was Stark getting such conflicting data? And why was one of the world's most powerful men interested in his lowly Congressional run?
Let's hook up and discuss. Let me know next time you're in New York. - Stark
The numbers swam in his vision as hours on the campaign trail caught up to Steve. He blinked hard, head throbbing as he tried to make sense of the statistics in front of him. He forwarded the email to his Chief Strategist. Natasha could get to the bottom of this.
Bleary eyed, Steve shut his laptop and staggered to the hotel bed. He managed to unbutton his cuffs but nothing more, sleep overtaking him as he flopped onto the mattress and buried his face into the covers.
"So I don't just believe that we're ready to lead the country by example, I'm working to make it true. To be the change that ensures everyone the right to success. Starting right here in District 9. I'm Steve Rogers, and I'm working for you!"
The packed audience went wild with applause. At least one man shouted "We love you, Steve!" loud enough for him to hear over the cheers. Town halls were easy. Show up, hit the stump speech hard, be nice to everyone. Steve may be a novice at statewide politics, but town halls offered the personal touch that made him want to run in the first place. Every time he felt the campaign become too big, too overwhelming, a small town hall gathering helped ground him. He could do this. He could make a difference. He could win.
He waved to the crowd and tired not to smile too brightly. Natasha told him his enthusiasm could read as disingenuous to some voters.
"Ultra cheesy," she told him over coffee that morning. She was typically terse. "Voters want a boy scout. Not a ventriloquist dummy."
"Eagle Scout," Steve corrected. "You know who else achieved that distinction? Walter Cronkite. We were both Eagle Scouts. At separate times, obviously."
He tried not to put too much stock in consultants or specialists or even Natasha when she was nit-picking about things like smiles or tie colors or hair styles. He trusted voters to see his stance on the issues, his work defending his stance, and hoped that would be enough.
"Eagle Scout. Right," Natasha rolled her eyes. "Of course you were." That had been the end of their morning briefing.
Steve waited for the cheers to die down. He looked at the folks in the front row holding huge blue and white ROGERS FOR CONGRESS signs that they'd clearly made themselves. He was touched. It was easy to love town halls, everyone there was high on the same enthusiasm. United by hope, and slightly high on the extra oxygen pumped through the vents.
"Any questions?" Steve's couldn't keep the grin off his face, consultant data be damned.
"Uh, yes! Hello."
Steve briefly wilted, his smile dimming for only a moment. He fixed a strand of hair that threatened to break lose behind his ears. It couldn't be.
"Uh, yes! Hello. Tony Stark, Stark Industries. And concerned voter."
The assembled crowd gasped. Steve's first row admirers swiveled to try and spot Stark in the back of the crowd. The egoist had actually brought his own microphone.
"Mister Stark," Steve regained his composure. "What an honor. Thank you for joining us."
"My pleasure," Tony purred into the microphone. "I'm concerned, Councilman, that your dedicated public service has kept you from being able to understand the very public that you serve."
Steve furrowed his brow, tried to look inconspicuous as he shot a worried glance to Natasha.
"I'm sorry I don't follow."
"Well," Tony's thumb stroked the microphone. He looked gleeful, cat-like. "You campaign for families. But you don't have a family of your own. Can you really understand the problems the rest of America is facing?"
"Absolutely." Steve was prepared for this line of questioning. "Understanding doesn't come from having every last detail in common with my neighbor. It comes from listening to him or her. That's why meetings like this, where we can really meet face to face, are so important. For regular Americans and for citizens of the world like you."
"Right, right," Tony pushed his way through the crown, unamused. "But how can you relate to the rest of these *ahem* lovely voters here? You're successful, well off, unreasonably handsome... well built..."
Tony seemed to lose his train of thought for a moment, his eyes lingering on the tailored fit of Steve's jacket against his shoulders.
"My point is," he grinned, "I'm not sure you're all that relatable. To them or to 'big business' owners like me. Who, exactly is Steve Rogers? But I'd love to fix that. Learn more about you. Hear your ideas for bringing jobs to this district. At, say, Tyson's. 9 o'clock. Friday."
Tony spoke in declaratives, never questions.
Steve stuffed his hands into his pockets to keep from fidgeting. "Mister Stark, are you asking me on a date?"
The crowd around them released a collective chuckle, all eyes pinned onto Tony Stark.
"Depends if that’s a yes or a no.”
Their dust up made national front pages. Steve Rogers was above the fold news. His name ricocheted across the blogosphere, social media platforms, and decidedly old-school gossip columns.
Rogers Courting Big Business?
Congressional Candidate Calls Stark's Bluff
Stark Industries Gets Behind Councilman, Congressional Hopeful
Get to Know: the Hunky Politician That Scares Tony Stark's Pants Off
5 Gifs That Prove Politely Confused Steve Rogers Is Life
"This is good," Natasha's voice was fuzzy in his earbuds. "Businesses think you're willing to sit at the table to discuss deregulation. The local unions are impressed you sparred with Stark, they said *#ed &^%-"
"I don't like it, Natasha. Natasha?" Steve slowed his run to a jog. He realized, for the first time that morning, that he could see his own breath in the cold, finally slowing long enough to watch the air react to his words.
"Natasha? Look, you're cutting out."
"- @($#, so bottom line," she was back. Resonant. "This Congressional run is just a stepping stone, Steve. Remember that. This story has legs. Stark just pushed you into the national conversation."
She ended the call with a swift click. Steve chewed on his cheek, thankful Natasha wasn’t much of a morning person. His body suddenly felt extremely heavy, weighed down. He leaned on the back of a park bench and tried to catch his breath. He used the quiet moment to measure his heart rate. 120. He could push harder.
His legs pumped, propelled him down the trail with comfortable and controlled movements. The blare of the ringtone in his ear didn't slow his stride. Steve fumbled with his watch, sweaty fingers jamming against the screen until a smeared thumb picked up the call.
"What now?" He huffed, sweat spraying from his lips.
"Glad to hear from you, too, sweet pea."
His foot caught on something, Steve scrambled to keep his footing.
"What the hec-? Stark?"
"Councilman Rogers. Were you expecting another call?"
Steve brought himself to a stroll, chest heaving as it tried to hold on to the cold morning air.
"How, uhh," he sucked in a breath. "How can I help you, sir?"
"Such a gentleman. So formal, I like that." Stark's voice was clear, mouth resting against the receiver. Steve thought he heard the distinct sound of a cork popping free of a bottle.
"Tyson's. I sat by myself, Councilman. Well, no, that's not true. I was almost by myself. There were about half a dozen media outlets there to watch me drink an Old Fashioned while you never showed up."
"Right," Steve's mind raced trying to figure out what exactly Stark wanted. Was he recording their call? Did he have some strange scheme to spring? A proposal to float?
"Look, Stark. I appreciate the, ahh... interest you've shown in my candidacy but I think you're barking up the wrong tree."
"Am I?" It sounded very much like Tony was pouring a drink at 7am. "I don't think so. See, I think you're going to lose this election. No, I know you're going to lose this election. Your team is looking at bad data, Rogers. You need my help."
Steve exhaled hard, a white cloud disappearing in front of him as quickly as it formed. He clenched his teeth.
"Your polling is all statewide, not specific to your district." Business mode Stark was a different, hyper proficient beast.
"Even the Post, which uses a smaller sample size, isn't controlling for registered voters versus actively engaged non-voters. Your girl, who is very good by the way, has your messaging geared to the wrong cohort. Check out those charts I sent you. Once you filter by actual likely voters... you're fucked, sweet cheeks."
Steve heard him take a pull of a drink, a satisfied sigh breathed into the phone. He paced, not sure how to calculate his next move.
"Are you working out right now?"
"Yes," Steve finally spoke out loud. "You caught me during a morning run."
"I can tell," Tony must've been smiling, his voice turned warm and suggestive. "You're breathing hard. It's very... distracting."
"How did you get this number, Mister Stark?"
"I didn't," Tony’s voice was bright. Steve could actually hear him grin, the corners of his mouth pulled back in self-satisfaction. "You just gave it to me."
"That doesn't even make sense."
"Have dinner with me tonight," Tony shot back. "We can argue whether it makes sense over sushi. Daruma-ya. Be there."
"You are persistent."
"You have no idea," Tony replied, a glass clattered in the background.
"And don't leave me drinking by my lonesome. It just gives me more time to sit and imagine things. And I'm an imaginative guy, Rogers. For example, I imagine right now you're in the middle of Richard's Park. Gray shorts, tight and dripping with sweat. I imagine you're probably wondering if I'm watching you, scanning the trees for some ridiculous drone or webcam. Or already wondering what you'll wear to dinner tonight. Wondering how you'll react, how you'll try not to give yourself away when I slide my hand up the thigh of those khakis we both know you'll wear. I bet you're wondering what it's like to feel my hands pawing at you, a small preview hinting at all the ways I'll manhandle you later. Wonder if the sound of my voice in your ears makes your pulse pound. Imagining what my weight feels like against your chest and if the stubble on my chin tickles against your cheeks..."
Steve couldn't think of a word to say, breath heaving into the phone.
"Look down," Tony ordered. "Did I get ya?"
Steve rolled his eyes, regained his senses. He cursed his heart for pumping him so full of blood.
"I'm hanging up."
"I got ya, didn't I?" Tony was giddy.
"Goodbye, Mister Stark."
"Wait wait wait!" Tony paused to be sure he was still on the line. "Daruma-ya. Wear those khakis."
He hated to admit it, but Stark actually knew what he was talking about. His technology outpaced anything available in his own district. It was amazing, so specific it bordered on invasive, but Steve reminded himself the cause was just. Stark had the ability to not only discern voter preferences, but layer likelihood of voting, alter proposition phrasing to discover hidden biases, even predict get-out-the-vote campaigns down to the zip code.
He was direct, never breaking eye contact with Steve as he walked him through napkin scribbled maps and tried to teach him about A/B testing creative messaging.
"You're preaching to the converted, ya dig?" Tony spoke with his hands, pointed his pen at Steve. "You've gotta drop the wholesome thing down a notch, Rogers. The younger demo, they're looking for authenticity. You’re selling good hair and a starched shirt, and your undecided likely voters are much more concerned with what’s under them."
"I am authentic. I genuinely care about making changes in District 9.” Steve tried not to sound exasperated. He clutched his water glass, afraid his nerves would show if he relaxed in his chair. He’d been on edge waiting for Stark to make his move, to brush against him. The onslaught of analytical and professional advice was the last thing Steve expected even though it’s exactly what was promised.
He nearly jumped out of his chair when the waiter refilled his water glass and topped off Tony’s wine.
“Jesus!” He quickly wiped up the water he’d splashed. “I - ugh - sorry. I was saying, issues like affordable housing are incredibly important to me. Both personally and professionally.”
"Yeah yeah," Stark turned back to his napkin, ink bleeding into the fine cloth. "Don't abandon that, just tweak it. Less Eagle Scout and more We Blow."
"It all sounds the same with your mouth full, Rogers."
"Alright, I think we're done here." Steve stood up. "I'll think about your advice, Mister Stark. I appreciate your time."
Tony turned his attention back to his napkin. Steve waited for him to protest, to stop him from walking away. He took long slow strides out of the dining room before casually glancing over his shoulder. Stark still stared at his napkin, brow furrowed as he scribbled down another string of numbers. Steve brushed his shirt off, too proud to admit he was, maybe, just the slightest bit disappointed, and made his way to the coat check.
"Good evening," the concierge forced a smile. "Ticket, please."
Steve dug into his pockets and came up empty. "I'm so sorry. I don't have a ticket. My da-, my associate checked our coats together."
"It's 132 and 133," Tony's voice came from behind Steve. "Should be a black trench and a - what was it - a navy blazer?”
Steve nodded. Tried not to look surprised that Tony had given chase. Tried not to look relieved, excited. He couldn’t trust his nerves, opted to stare at the wall and anxiously run a hand through his hair.
"Tony Stark!" The concierge's eyes were saucers. "Holy shit. 132 and 133. Yeah, right away."
He disappeared into the coat closet. Steve turned to face Tony, barely had time to look up before he was suddenly pinned against a wall. Tony rushed him, surprisingly quick on his feet, a blur that only settled when he pressed his hips against Steve’s.
"Mister Stark!" Steve barked. "Jesus, Tony. We're in public."
"Exactly," Tony hissed into Steve's ear. He pressed their bodies flush, both hands pulling Steve's hips into his. "So shut up and don't attract any attention."
Steve looked around the restaurant, no one in the foyer seemed to notice them. Stark's face was uncomfortably close. His breath warm against Steve's neck.
"So," Tony smiled. "Am I really barking up the wrong tree?" He slid a hand into Steve's back pocket.
Steve's throat went dry. He tried to swallow, couldn't think of anything to say. "My coat. I, um, I need to get my coat." A patch of red invaded his cheeks.
"The coat," Tony brushed up against Steve's hips harder. "Navy, yeah? Matches perfectly with those - oh, I see you still wore those khakis. Looks like I'm barking up exactly the right tree."
Tony grabbed at Steve's ass cheeks, greedy fingers digging into the round muscle.
"Oh," Tony's eyebrow shot up. "I definitely feel some lift off."
"Stark, come on. There are people everywhere." Steve tried to keep his voice even. His gaze shot around the quiet room. He couldn't tell if the concierge had been gone a moment or a lifetime.
Tony bucked up against him, his cock unmistakably swollen. A soft groan reverberated in Steve’s throat.
"Rogers, you're poking me."
Tony looked down, a satisfied grin spreading across his face. Steve's pants were too tight to feign modesty. A long, thick outline formed down his left thigh.
“Mamma mia, I think I’m in love,” Tony’s hands couldn’t stop themselves, he grabbed a handful of Steve’s ass, forcing their hips together harder.
"I have to," Steve’s breath caught in his throat. "I have to go, Stark."
"Oh no, no no no," Tony wrapped another arm around Steve's waist, felt their chests press together. He pushed himself against Steve harder, gentle flirtation quickly converted into a dry hump. Stark was unrepentant, rutting against Steve with gusto.
"No, Rogers. Stay. Look at this," his breath had the hair on Steve's neck standing up, his body at full attention. "Look at how much you want this. Should I stop, really?" Tony already knew the answer.
Steve's body hummed. His eyes darted around the room as he shook his head. He felt Tony's hand creep down the back of his pants, the feeling of his palm on Steve's bare skin eliciting a loud gasp. Steve tucked his head into Tony's neck to quiet himself.
"So here's how this plays out," he brushed the full length of his thigh against Steve's cock. He twitched under Tony's touch. "You need my help. You bring me on as a Campaign Consultant."
"And what," Steve tried to make eye contact, lids heavy and body pushing back against Stark's in rhythm, "what's in it for you?"
"This," Tony cupped a hand around Steve's cheeks, his fingers groping for more. He pinned the younger man against the wall, hard, felt him wrap a leg around Tony’s for leverage. "I'm in it for this. You need this just as bad as I do."
Steve nodded, mind hazy. He'd suddenly become eager, felt himself on the brink.
"You're already close, aren't you?" Tony's voice was thick, proud of himself and entirely absorbed in Steve, focused on the quiet grunts he uttered every time Tony brushed against him. He picked up his pace, harder and harder, his entire body stroking Steve's length.
"I'm," Steve nodded harder, his forehead pressed against Tony's shoulder. "Oh jeez I'm close, Stark. I *umph* oh god, I um. Ok. You're - oh god you feel good - you're on board."
Tony pushed and pulled against him. Steve was rattled, heated. His hair had wilted, bangs falling over his forehead. He could feel the sweat on his brow as Tony’s body slid alongside his. He couldn't take much more.
"Steve," Tony whispered into his ear. "Your body is fucking incredible, you know that? Barking up the wrong tree? You're fucking throbbing, babe. Let go. Let it fucking go."
Steve tried to cover his mouth, stifle the moan as it escaped him. He buried himself into Tony's chest, body rigid as his hips bucked. The waves kept hitting, crashing over his body and leaving him ragged until the weight of Tony's body pinning him to the wall was the only thing that kept him standing. He'd come completely undone.
The concierge feigned ignorance. His red face betrayed him as he gripped their coats.
"You didn't see nothing," Tony tossed a hundred dollar bill on the counter and grabbed their coats. Steve still leaned against the wall, hands on his knees, chest heaving. He counted his heart rate. 150.
Tony threw his own trench coat to Steve.
"To cover your, ah, tree sap."
Steve did his best to nod. "Good call," he barely pushed the words out.
"My car is waiting." Tony reached down to readjust himself, not bothering to be discreet in front of the newly rich concierge. "See you in the morning. Boss."